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The French U20 fifteen repeated as title winners at the annual tournament. The event took place in Argentina with the final in the city of Rosario. The French won in 2018, also.
Les Bleuets, as they are called in France, defeated Australia 24-23 for the championship. The French were ahead 18-13 at the break and then, thwarted a last half junior Wallaby come back. The win was good news for French rugby, which has experienced a negative result in the years after the 2015 Rugby World Cup in England. Les Blues will compete in the RWC 2019 pool of disappointment in Tokyo where they will meet England, Argentina, Tonga, and the USA. Can these back-to-back U20 victories supply new blood to the French side, and revise national spirits in time for the 2023 RWC in France?
Similarly, Australia have also experienced mediocre outcomes since their second-place finish in the 2015 RWC. The country has faced a lack of interest in the sport both on the national and club levels.
The match of great import was the contest for 11th place, where the loser would be relegated to the second tier U20 Trophy comprised of eight nations. (This event commences in Brazil this July.) Fiji beat Scotland 59-34 in a try fest. The condensed game can be seen at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=21fqniDfEe The young Fijians displayed many of those last second offload skills as their sevens counterparts.
Scotland become the second top tier side to be relegated in the twelve-year history of the U20 tournament. Italy experienced the drop down in 2013.
Although the U20 Championship flies mostly under national rugby radar, the Scotland reversal highlights what happens when relegation occurs; a loss of status and pride. And these were the reasons why Scotland and Ireland rejected World Rugby’s bid for a 12-nation Nations Championship with relegation.
The U20 results: in 2019:
- South Africa
- New Zealand (First time the All Blacks did not finish in the top six places.)
The event moves to Italy in 2020.